'I have pain daily': Reported hit-and-runs tripled since 2016

Philippa Hyndman's thigh was bruised and she had to undergo surgery following a hit-and-run in...
Philippa Hyndman's thigh was bruised and she had to undergo surgery following a hit-and-run in 2017. Photo: Supplied
Philippa Hyndman is still experiencing pain from injuries inflicted four years ago when she was knocked off her moped by a driver who fled the scene.

Philippa Hyndman. Photo: Supplied
Philippa Hyndman. Photo: Supplied
The Blenheim local was concussed and has a blurred memory of the event, but the ongoing effects serve as a very real reminder.

A head injury still prevents her from working fulltime and physiotherapy payments have piled up.

"I have pain daily. I need to use a handrail going up stairs. I do a lot of walking but can only do shorter distances now. I have trouble bending over and picking things up," she told the Herald.

"I've lost count of the financial loss from this crash."

Hyndman is just one of a multitude of victims in more than 150 recorded hit and runs across New Zealand in the past five-and-half-years.

Reported hit and runs have tripled since 2016, jumping from 16 to 48 in 2020, according to New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) data obtained by the Herald.

Almost 30 hit-and-runs have been reported so far this year alone, seven of which were serious.

A 21-year-old is in court following a fatal hit-and-run in Māngere, South Auckland, on June 9. The incident was so recent it has not been included in data from NZTA.

The man, who has name suppression, has been charged with dangerous driving causing death.

Meanwhile, Clive Vakalahi, who admitted being drunk and hitting a pedestrian in the early hours of the morning of April 18 in Sandringham, is being sentenced later this month.

Lower Hutt father Jade Harris, 27, pleaded guilty to hitting Anna Chesterfield while she was walking on a pedestrian crossing earlier this year.

Chesterfield was thrown onto the bonnet of the car and smashed on to the windscreen, rolled on to the roof, and was thrown about 15m before landing on the road.

There have been 151 reported crashes marked with "vehicle left scene" and involving a "pedestrian" since 2016, NZTA figures show.

The term "pedestrian" includes people in wheelchairs, and on mobility scooters and skateboards.

Both serious and minor reported crashes under these terms have increased significantly in 2019 and peaked in 2020, even with the data being incomplete for that year.

There was a combined total of 48 serious, minor and non-injury hit-and-runs reported in 2020, and a total of 42 in 2019.

That's compared with a total of just seven reported hit-and-runs in 2018, and 11 in 2017.

But it is difficult to say hit-and-runs are increasing in general because there is no specific police coding for them, police told the Herald in a statement.

"If someone rings to report an incident of this nature it is coded as a vehicle collision.

"At this stage there is no intention to create a separate code for reporting a hit and run incident; however where charges are laid for failing to stop to ascertain injury following a crash, this will be recorded as an offence independently of the crash.

There isn't one typical charge that would be laid in these cases, police said.

"Any decision to lay charges and any decision around the most appropriate charge would be considered after taking into account a number of factors - including the offender's intent, the seriousness of the injuries sustained to the victim, and the overall circumstances surrounding the incident."

NZTA also said it could not confirm whether hit-and-runs have increased, due to "under-reporting" of less serious incidents.

Hyndman said she reported the driver who hit her after she was discharged from hospital.

They were eventually charged and ordered to pay Hyndman reparation.

"It was because the passenger had a conscience that the driver was charged," she said.

"There were so many things I wanted to say to her, but I said I hope she apologises to her passenger.

"I don't like to think about her a lot."

Police urge witnesses to come forward and help with any investigation.

"Ensuring the safety of the victim and anyone else involved is police's number one priority."












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